June 4, 2019. Belgium, Turnhout. Cartamundi, the biggest manufacturer of playing cards in Europe, announces the acquisition of American (and, in many ways, worldwide) market leader - the United States Playing Card Company.
Seemingly, everyone was caught by surprise with the news. Recently the USPCC has enriched its portfolio by acquiring Spanish Fournier. Since then basically only three big players on the market were left: USPCC, Cartamundi and Legends Playing Card Co. (including all of its deviations, which print cards on the Taiwanese factory). By purchasing the US-based manufacturer with a rich 150-year history, Cartamundi stands on the edge of becoming a monopolist in the industry.
Many, from casinos and collectors to magicians and cardists, were concerned about those changes. If for causal users or poker players a potential press, stock or finish change will seem negligible, professionals might not take this type of news kindly. As we have informed, back in 2010 when Jarden Corporation bought out USPC company, the factory was moved from the state of Ohio to Kentucky and the press was sold. In the first few years the quality of stock of the decks has worsen drastically, some attempts to save money on inks were exposed. In no time the term Blue Seals (the ones covering the tuck cases) was born to tell apart all classic decks manufactured by the old Ohio factory. Eventually the quality of the decks, printed by the United States Playing Card Company in Erlanger, increased, however many sleight of hand and cardsharp experts still prefer the decks printed before the factory was sold in 2010.
Cartamundi is well-known for its engagement in the cardistry community. For several years a French duo Cardistry Touch has been printing their cardistry cards with the help of the Belgian factory. Also, apparently the fatory's prices are low enough to make a prolific magic brand ellusionist (which is located and sends all orders from the USA) move a big chunk of its manufacturing process to Cartamundi.
What the future holds for us is still unclear. However, via comments in their Instagram Cartamundi's representatives assure that there're no reason to panic, they claim they value the quality of the United States Playing Card Co. brands and don't want to ruin the legacy of American playing cards. Also adding that from now on they are going to share the best practices and experience between the two factories. It remains to be seen whether there will be some more concrete announcements and hope that the Black Seals, used since 2010, won't become yet another landmark in quality measurement of the USPCC products.
PS. You still can purchase professional playing cards like Bicycle, Tally-Ho, Bee and some of the best custom decks printed both by the USPCC in Kentucky (2010-2019) and the old factory in Ohio (1970-2010) in our shop.
PPS. Even though this was a big surprise for all of the playing card related communities, for December Boys the selling of the USPCC is not the biggest news of this summer. Come back July-August for more - it's going to be hot!